Invasive Pond Plants

invasive pond plants used by invasive garden pond plant retailers. Avoid doing business with invasive pond plant retailers. Invasive pond plants may cost you thousands of dollars when your neighbor's lake gets infested. Extremely naive people may think their invasive pond plants cannot escape their garden ponds.

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North American Invasive Aquatic Plants and Animals



 

Some people wonder why there is such a fuss over invasive aquatic species of plants and animals. We offer our thoughts as a partial explaination.

You may ask what makes a plant invasive since there are so many non-native plants introduced around the world. Invasive plants are those which cause problems for either humans or the vegetation native to a particular area. From an aquatic aspect, an invasive plant might clog a lake to the point of causing the lake to become useless for human use or for the use of native plants and animals. A portion of our work at Spring Creek Aquatic Concepts comes from restoration of habitat destroyed by invasive plants and animals. We would rather prevent that sector of our market, instead of profit from it.

The easiest way to avoid the problems of purchasing invasive plants is to buy your plants from a professional nursery. In the case of aquatic plants, this usually means purchasing from a native wetland nursery instead of one that specializes in ornamental pond plants. The side benefit we have noticed is the plants are usually healthier and less expensive! Unfortunately there are large numbers of ornamental pond plant retailers who lack the professional background or the sense of responsibility to avoid selling invasive plants. Our governments spend millions to reduce the threat of invasive plants, yet some retailers persist in helping these plants spread. For your assistance, our Resource Page has a list of qualified aquatic plant nurseries who will help you select the best vegetation whether you have a small ornamental pond or a large lake. We have personally worked with and visited most of these nurseries to ensure they are concerned for the best interests of our clients as well as the environment.

One simple test to determine if a water garden or pond plant retailer even knows the basics is to ask them for emergent plants instead of what they may incorrectly call "marginal plants" or "bog plants". Try another question using the term submerged plants instead of what they usually call "oxygenating plants". This is very basic knowledge. If they can't answer, this is your clue to move on.

Many people believe the natural environment is safe from the non-native plants and fish they stock in their ponds, as long as there is no direct connection between the waters. This is a very dangerous thought which is currently damaging our wild habitats, native plants and animals. Entire lakes have been ruined by thoughtless introductions of plants such as water hyacinth and parrots feather.

The companion misconception is the idea that warmer climate plants will never invade cooler areas because they die in winter. We are personally seeing vegetation such as parrots feather invading areas that were previously thought to be too cold for this plant. Plants adjust and evolve faster than we are prepared for. The result is a huge problem where there wasn't one a few years ago. There is a wide variety of native plants and fish that will thrive in your habitat. Please be careful when talking to someone selling fish and plants. They may have no idea if the plant is native or an invader.

Many people do not believe their fish can escape if there is no direct aquatic connection to natural waters. It is amazing how fish can fly in the egg form when tucked into the feathers of a duck. There are also times when herons or osprey catch your fish and lose them in flight. There are numerous examples where undesirable fish become established in a river, then within several years these fish appear in most of the ponds within a couple miles of that river. It is difficult to imagine these dispersal mechanisms, but they exist. Please avoid contributing to this problem.

We have worked for people who have brought irresponsible land owners to court because of activities that ruined our clients' waters. Be aware in this age of litigation that you may be held responsible for such simple acts as planting invasive eurasian milfoil or parrots feather in your garden pond and having it escape over the fence to someone's valuable lake. This is a case of what you don't know may hurt you. The plants you stock in your pond disperse the same way the fish do, but much faster!

If none of this has motivated you towards native vegetation thus far, consider that in the state of Texas you can be fined from $200 to $2000 for EACH plant or stem of illegal invasive vegetation in your possession. You could easily be holding $25,000 worth of fines in ONE HAND!

Finally, there are a couple of very positive reasons to utilize species that are native to your area:

  • There is a wide variety of native plants available when compared to the short, unimaginative list of usual water garden plants.
  • Native plant variety results in more colors and longer flowering seasons.
  • Native plants will survive the winter in small garden ponds. You don't need to overwinter them.
  • We saved the best for last - your pond or water feature is now an asset to the natural environment instead of a threat.

The following is an educational resource for people to responsibly maintain their lakes, ponds, streams and water gardens.

PLANTS

This is a partial North American list of invasive vegetation. We have listed what we feel are the most threatening species. THIS IS NOT A COMPLETE LIST. Please inquire locally to be sure your plants are native.

Our Resources Page lists a number of native plant nurseries across the U.S. and Canada. These people are true professionals who will steer you clear of invasive species.

PARROT(s) FEATHER (Myriophyllum spicatum)

Spread by Pond Retailers in North Carolina. Note the article mentions wetland nurseries. We tend to do more business with wetland nurseries because they tend to NOT deal in invasive species. We have rejected numerous pond plant vendors because they deal in invasives. Selling invasives is a red flag indicating the retailer's lack of knowledge.

Identifcation and Ecology from Washington.

Texas Information

Identification and Photos from Florida
 

EURASIAN WATERMILFOIL (Myriophyllum spicatum)

Identification and Photos in Florida. Extensive information found here

Identification and Ecology From Washington
 

WATER HYACINTH (Eichornia crassipes)

Illegal in Texas

Identification and Photos in Florida. Extensive information found here

Identification and Invasive History in Florida
 

BRAZILIAN WATERWEED (Egeria densa) aka: Anacharis, Brazilian Elodea

Identification and Ecology From Washington

Photos from Florida

NATIVE ELODEA the natural alternative to Egeria, except for TX, LA, AK, HI. Note the three leaves per whorl in the native.


 

HYDRILLA (Hydrilla verticillata)

Identification and Ecology From Washington

Identification and Photos in Florida. Extensive information found here
 

OTHER INVASIVE WETLAND PLANT SPECIES

While on this subject, there are several plants that many people consider native which are actually invaders. Some of these damage native populations of plants and animals, while others are more benign.

  • Watercress (Rorippa nasturtium-aquaticum) invaded from Europe over a hundred years ago. Watercress displaces native vegetation. If you are interested in this plant from an aesthetic perspective, the irony is there are much more attractive native plants that fit this niche.
  • Yellow Iris (Iris pseudacorus) is in a similar situation as watercress. Again there are more attractive native Iris which can be found at a qualified nursery. Watercress pushes out native emergent wetland plants that provide greater habitat complexity for invertebrates, amphibians and fish.
  • Water mint (Mentha aquatica) is an invader that probably hasn't done much damage. There are native mints that are better choices.

If you are interested in native species for your water, we suggest starting with the USDA Plant Database for information and photos. Please note the USDA site incorrectly lists watercress as native to North America. After finding the vegetation you desire, we suggest contacting a fully qualified nursery who knows which plants are native, which plants will work best on your site, and will be able to suggest addtional species. Qualified nurseries which meet our expectations as true professionals, instead of hobbyist turned "professional", can be found on our Resources Page.
 
 

ANIMALS

There are obvious problems that face our habitats such as illegal stocking of non-native warm water fish into cold water habitats. This is the situation of the destruction of legendary trophy trout fisheries such as Crane Prairie Reservoir in Oregon. Crane Prairie Reservoir used to support a phenomenally productive and varied trout fishery even for the inexperienced angler. After introductions of largemouth bass, bluegill and crappie, it is now less than a shadow of the historical fishery. Warmwater fish introductions into cold water habitats usually result in dual lower quality fisheries since the habitat is too cold for a quality warm water fishery and forage reserves held in warm habitat during summer, is now taken by invading warm water fish.

Everyone has also heard of the thoughtless dumping of live bait into waters which resulted in the destruction of trophy fisheries. These examples are obvious. We would like to point out the other species and less obvious ways these species invade habitats where they do not belong. Diligence is called for when fishing on the Great Lakes, then taking your boat to a smaller lake that does not have problems with species such as zebra mussels. Other examples include fertile populations of grass carp invading the midwest from the Mississippi River. Sterile grass carp are used for vegetation control, but it only takes one mistake to produce a real problem... and that appears to have happened.


 
 

NATIVE FISH RESOURCES

The Native Fish Conservancy Native options to ornamental pond fish are found here, as well as suppliers. Garden ponds are not just for koi any more. Native fish are the hottest new idea for your home.
 
 

OUR ENVIRONMENTAL EFFORTS

PRIVATE ENTERPRISE

Spring Creek's efforts to improve our environment See how you can assist our environmental efforts without spending money.


 
 


 
 

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